Thao Kieu


MFA Student

Major: Sculpture

Graduation Year: 2022

Artist Statement:

My practice reflects the objectified representations of my female body, aiming to intertwine the sexual and social normative. Sculptures, specific found objects, self portraiture, video based performance, and audio are the materials and formats used to create provocative works to subvert traditional notions of sex and identity. I create works that are imbued with the body, and use semiotics of bold colors and vignettes to abstract quotidian life, to break the silence of my childhood incest trauma. These strategies engage in forcing the politics of the personal to disorient and confront debates around gender, power, and the liberty of expression in art and life through my autobiographical work.
I explore my body as a tool and also an object to perform live, in videos and installations. I make my body representative to hold space for dialogue but take up space on the walls of institutions that continue to uphold colonial hierarchies. I am investigating intersectionality and nuances within feminism and the themes that objectify those preconceived notions. The body remembers. Psychological pain and suffering are the ways the body articulates traumatic experiences. I use trauma to create art. I intentionally arrange objects that reference the body and gender space evoke the sensations of post traumatic stress disorder. I make art to process, cope and rewire my brain’s understanding of the reality of PTSD. I assert agency and reclaim the lost power as a child now as a critical independent thinker and maker to advocate and educate having hard conversations around uncomfortable.


Thao Kieu (b. 1996) is an interdisciplinary artist from South Portland, Maine. Kieu’s multimedia work is positioned in conversation with the larger cultural phenomena that blurs the space between art and life. The structure, style, and bold subject matter rouse care and liberation. Her practice provokes discomfort and controversy by focusing on the traumatic personal experiences. It’s cathartic for her to create spaces that “aggressively soft scream” her experiences of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and forcing the politics of the personal, sexual and violent, and viewers become defacto witnesses to her truth. By reflecting the body of her practice as a whole, the common themes of sexual violence and the use of her body as an object critiques gendered power structures that are perpetuated throughout life.
After earning a BFA from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in 2018, Thao Kieu continued her research and process of making at the Maine College of Art and Design, completing a Master of Fine Art in Studio Art in May 2022. She will continue to make space to have dialogue around hard conversations that relate back to the experience of the body.